Il Monello is a newly opened Italian joint by some of the same folks behind Tuscany Steakhouse and Il Tinello. My wife and I came here with two other couples, so we got to try a lot of the menu! Take a look:
Beautiful little bar in the entryway. I enjoyed their negroni.
Starters: fried calamari, carpaccio, “cozze” mussels, bianco salad, and Il Monello salad.
Pasta Dishes: Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage, bucatini cacio e pepe, and lobster ravioli.
Entrees: porterhouse for two (9/10), potato crusted sea bass, and Il Monello Chicken (the crowd favorite).
Mixed dessert platter:
Everything we had was delicious. For their third day being open, there was not one hang-up with the food or the service. These guys are professionals! They know a thing or two about opening and running a restaurant. This one was a few years in the making too, since COVID and then licensing and inspection processes caused them some delays. I can’t wait to go back and try more, especially the eggplant parm, the veal milanese, and any of their daily/weekly specials.
I finally got down to Charleston, SC, and, of course, a top priority was to check out Hall’s Chophouse. I went down to visit a law school friend with some other guys from law school, so we went big here!
Also: quick caveat – I think the score for this place would climb with multiple visits. I’d need to get back and try more meats and some seafood, but I can see this place getting in the 95-point range.
We tried three cuts: the porterhouse, the tomahawk, and the prime rib. All were excellent, but I think the prime rib took the victory.
The prime rib was a 10/10. It’s wet aged, but rubbed with a Montreal seasoning that really added a ton of flavor.
Both the tomahawk and porterhouse are dry-aged a minimum of 45 days after two weeks of wet aging. These packed a lot of funk, both 9/10.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
There’s a great selection of dry-aged beef from Allen Brothers in Chicago. Everything is aged off site, first wet-aged and then dry-aged for 45-days (except for the prime rib – that’s just wet-aged). All prime, and all delicious.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
The meat board plating was really nice for our massive order of three steaks. Portion size is definitely on the large side, especially for sides, apps and desserts.
Don’t expect a cheaper bill just because you’re outside of the NYC insanity! Beef prices have gone up lately, and top notch quality like Allen Brothers being shipped from Chicago to Charleston means you’ll be paying a premium. That said, I thought the prices were all kinda fair, with the exception of the martinis at $26ea.
The bar here a great spot to hang out. My buddy is there all the time, and I would be too.
My martini was great (blue cheese olives) despite being pricey.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
There were some specials off the menu that all sounded delightful. They have quail and duck for non-beef meat items. One stand out was the bison filet, which you can see here in this short video at the beginning (the very dark colored lean cut, top right). We didn’t try it, but I’m sure it was good.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We started with the bacon; really nice. The tomato on top was a nice twist on this.
The tartare was slightly over worked but it was still really delicious. The table was impressed!
We split a burger for our appetizer, which was really delicious. It reminded me of Peter Luger and Red Hook Tavern – a distinct dry aged flavor that eats more like a steak than a burger. It’s definitely a top five steakhouse style burger for me.
The sautéed spinach was a nice light side.
Loaded mashed potatoes – of course.
These fried okra were a fun change up for side dishes as well.
For dessert we tried the skillet cookie, the lemon cheesecake, and the whisky bread pudding. All were awesome, but the bread pudding was my favorite.
Seafood Selection: 8
I gotta be honest – I didn’t even bother looking at the selections. But the she crab soup that we tried in between courses was fantastic. If you have room, get it!
Service was amazing here. You really can’t beat it. The staff knew everything there was to know about the meat when I pried them, too. Our waiter even asked if we’d prefer a chuck side or loin side cut of prime rib, which I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I was impressed (and of course I went with chuck side).
Table bread was warm and toasty, with a great whipped butter. You know I always have to mention it!
Great spot. There is live music in the main bar room, which is more lively and loud, while the side rooms and upstairs are a bit more private and cozy.
While walking around, I saw Walter Goggins and Danny McBride having a meal, so I sent them a bottle of wine and had the pleasure of chatting with them for a bit. If you don’t know the names, they are the headliners for great shows like Eastbound and Down, Justified and The Righteous Gemstones.
Oh yeah – nice little Michters bottle in the bathroom filled with mouth wash.
This place is the real deal, and if you plucked it out of SC and dropped it into NYC, it would still be a wild success and I’d rank it among the heavy hitting stars here, easily. I can’t wait to go back.
I was recently invited into this place for a media dinner, complimentary in exchange for posting content on Instagram. Here’s what we had:
Perfect espresso martini. And I mean perfect!
Awesome pappardelle with porcini mushrooms. Pictured here is a half portion size. They split the dish even though I asked them not to.
Octopus with chic pea puree. This was on the upper side of okay, just about at the good level.
The Bad & The Ugly
Complimentary plate of cheese and meats. Meh.
Steak Tartare. This needed salt/seasoning. I also didn’t like the burrata cream on the bottom, but the sun dried tomato was a nice, unique topper. It was ugly though, and I had to add some crumbled parm from the plate above to give it a pop of flavor.
The porterhouse was overcooked, under seasoned, dry, and tasted as if it was a plate of leftovers that was re-heated in a toaster oven. If you’ve ever done that, you know exactly what I mean. It was noted as being dry-aged, but I didn’t taste it. There was little to no char on it either. 4/10.
We skipped dessert since it was starting to get late. The service was slow toward the end of the meal (busy overcooking the steak, perhaps). I kid. The restaurant did get pretty full and busy later on. The restaurant is in the back of a Hyatt hotel lobby, which is weird. I wonder if that’s where they serve the complimentary breakfast in the morning.
I probably won’t go back, but if I did, I would definitely stick to the pasta selections and the wine/cocktails.
RAMERINO ITALIAN PRIME
16 E 39th St
New York, NY 10016
Misi is an Italian joint in Williamsburg that serves up some great pasta and an even better porterhouse steak.
Cocktails are really nice, like this negroni sour:
For starters, we did the whipped ricotta with roasted peppers, and the baby artichokes. Both were light and refreshing, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be the artichokes.
Next up was the pasta. We did a lamb ragu citarra as well as a brown butter tortelli stuffed with spinach and ricotta. Normally, I would gravitate toward that lamb ragu, but the tortelli were the winner between the two excellent pastas.
The dry aged porterhouse was awesome.
It was cooked to a nice medium rare and dusted with fennel pollen and rosemary.
The seasoning on it was definitely in the cumin/curry wheelhouse, which was a really nice change of pace.
It came with a side of giganto beans that were really bright and flavorful. Perfectly cooked.
But this steak was an easy 8/10, and I would definitely come back again to try more of the menu.
Maple & Ash came recommended by a friend. First thing I saw when I looked at the menu online was an order called “I don’t give a fuck.” For $200 a head, they give you what they want. I thought that was funny, so I was sold on trying this place out.
We had the aged porterhouse, called “The Eisenhower.” I didn’t really get much aged flavor from it, and the thing was basically swimming in juices (likely cut too soon after cooking), but it was in fact tasty and tender. It was cooked slightly over in some parts, and slightly under in others.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
There’s a lot to choose from here, including, again, items from Japan and various parts of the country.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
The portions here are big, on everything from the steaks to the sides and sweets. They go a little extra here on plating – beyond the usual white plate elegance. The marrow served with the steak is nice; kinda reminded me of stuffed clams (breadcrumbs mixed in).
Another Chicago slam job on the price. I don’t think NYC has gotten there yet. A steak for two here was $225, over $100 a head. That’s insanity!
The bar(s) here are a little too small for the size and type of crowd that this joint attracts (bros and hoes). They mixed a decent martini though, and the bars were nicely appointed.
Specials and Other Meats: 10
There were no specials read to us, but I didn’t expect much from a place with such an extensive menu. We did try their veal chop as an appetizer. This was much better than the porterhouse for two.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
The broccolini was in fact broccoli rabe. Let down. It was also mushy and chopped up into oblivion.
The coconut cream pie was excellent, and the size and shape of the slice was a sight to behold.
Seafood Selection: 8
There’s a lot of seafood on the menu, but we only tried the octopus appetizer. It was okay, but a slight bit snappy and chewy in texture.
Service was very good. Nice waiter, and they seemed to know their meats very well.
I really can’t decide if I want to give this place a 10, or something like a 6, so I’m splitting the difference. I like the idea of a gothic looking steakhouse. They have these wild candlesticks all over the place. The rooms are dark and dim, but loud as fuck from a young crowd. It’s kind of a strange juxtaposition. And then they also have modern touches throughout, which kind of clashes with the gothic stuff. Interesting, to say the least. Since the place is multi-level, at times it seems cramped and small. But they did make the best use of their space.
I was recently invited into Vinyl Steakhouse for a complimentary meal in exchange for posting some photos on my Instagram account. But as you know, I like to keep it real in my reviews here, for all you meat maniacs. Let’s get into it.
My wife and I shared both the boneless 16oz wet-aged cajun rib eye, as well as the dry-aged porterhouse for two. Both really hit the mark for flavor. I only took a point away because the porterhouse was cooked a slight bit beyond medium rare.
As you can see, this was mainly isolated to the grey banding, but, honestly, I don’t think it took much away from the over all experience (9/10).
The rib eye was pretty much cooked perfectly. The cajun flavor was light/mild, but I think it was the right move to use a fresh cut rather than an aged cut for this, as the flavors may have wanted to compete a bit. Perhaps a marinade would pump up the flavors a little more (8/10).
Also worth noting here, the steak sauce it blessed with white truffle, so you’ll definitely want to try it. This is one of the only steak sauces that I actually used at a steakhouse. It was incredible!
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
There’s a great selection of both aged and fresh steaks, as well as bone in and boneless steaks, and steaks for one or two. The beef hails from Greentree Packing Company, and the chef, Alex, told us that their dry aging room is adorned with planks of cedar wood and salt blocks, which are said to impart flavor and create a nice environment for aging beef. I definitely tasted some of that dry aged flavor on the porterhouse, so the tricks they’re doing worked.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
I dig the plating here. They scrapped the traditional steakhouse style of all white, plain looking plates, and went with a little bit more style that’s unique and fitting to their vibe. A ring of gold, patterns, grooves. Very vinyl/wax. As for portion size, the apps and sides were nice sizes for sure. A hulking 6-8oz crab cake; enough beef carpaccio to satisfy a light appetite; two turnovers on the dessert plate. It works. The single portion steaks are a little on the small side (8, 10, 14 and 16 ounces), however, I think this was done to keep the prices from being jaw-dropping. The US has seen a massive bump in beef prices, so I appreciate the effort at keeping steaks to a comfortable size for the price.
A 16oz fresh cajun rib eye (no bone) comes in at $59, and the steaks for two (porterhouse or rib eye) are $139, aged, at 36-38oz. I think this is really fair, especially given the quality.
The bar here is nestled midway into the restaurant, past the host and turntable area, and just before the intimate yet social dining room. Without window space, the bar area is dim, but there are some seats along the front window near the record player that would be fun for cocktails. In fact, that’s where we ate, because the light was perfect there.
The cocktail menu is awesome.
We tried four of the signatures, each one better than the last. I highly recommend the “Magickal Childe,” named after the Wiccan store owner that used the space before them (pictured above).
Specials and Other Meats: 6
They have some chicken on the menu, but nothing else by way of red meat flesh other than beef. I appreciate the beef-forward menu big time, so don’t let the lower score here fool you.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We started with a crab cake. This was awesome. The roasted corn really made it pop.
We also tried the beef carpaccio. The slight age on this, as well as those dots of spicy horseradish mustard, took it to the next level. This is one of the best I’ve had in a while.
On the side, we tried the marrow corn, which was really nice and carved right off the cob, served in a husk.
For dessert, we tried the cherry turnovers, a la mode with vanilla ice cream. I liked these; not too sweet. The more discerning Cake Dealer thought the dough was a bit thick in parts, and slightly undercooked.
Seafood Selection: 7
There’s scallops and salmon here by way of entree selections from the sea, but we didn’t try them. We did enjoyed the crab cake though, as noted above.
The staff here is awesome. Everyone is excited about the menu, from the drinks all the way to the desserts. Very friendly, even when it comes to music disagreements! That’s right: you may hear the in-house audiophiles debating music as they swap out records to play. They even asked our opinion, which I thought was pretty cool.
Table bread is excellent, by way of Balthazar. Pictured here is sourdough and baguette, but they also offer focaccia (all on the house with creamy, whipped honey butter).
These guys really made great use of the space, and, in doing so, created a very unique dining experience based off of the GM’s passion for, and background in, the music industry (he was a producer and record label owner). The front DJ area takes you back to the old days when the living room, basement, or bedroom, was lined with book shelves containing LOTS OF WAX.
They generally like to play whole album A and/or B sides right through, just as many of the artists intended (these days, you’re lucky to get two good songs on an album, let alone a great concept album that you actually want to play start to finish).
We pretty much finished every last bite of food here, despite ordering like animals. So i’ll definitely be back here for more, and soon. Give this place a shot!
Carne Mare is a great Italian steakhouse down in the seaport. My wife and I went with another couple this past weekend, and we really dove in!
We had both the prime rib and the 45-day dry aged porterhouse for two. If I had to pick a favorite between the two, it would be the prime rib.
It was “porchetta spice” rubbed on the outside, and cooked to a perfectly tender and juicy medium rare inside. It floated in a shallow pool of veal jus. Amazing. This baby now ranks in my top 5 for sure.
The porterhouse was nicely cooked and served on a metal platter with bone marrow, herbs, a light watercress salad, and blistered cherry tomatoes. Great aged flavor, and even cook temp all over.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
I wanted to take a point here because they ran out of the duck that we wanted to try, and also because the prime rib is very limited. By 8pm on a Friday, there were only two pieces left. Go early! However, I decided to restore the point, since I wanted to try the veal over the duck anyway, and that’s what we ended up having.
Portion Size & Plating: 10
The prime rib was 16oz, and the porterhouse was 45oz. Both are robust. Other portion sizes were healthy as well, especially for the carpaccio apps, which I find are typically small.
This joint is definitely pricey. At $66 for the prime rib and $185 for the porterhouse, you are well over the average for NYC pricing. However, the quality is top notch, so I didn’t feel too burned over it. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t order the porterhouse again since it comes out to $92.50 per person. That’s high!
The bar here is beautiful, as is the entryway into the bar room.
With views of the water, this is almost unbeatable. They have a great selection of cocktails and booze, and I definitely enjoyed the martinis they mixed for me.
Specials and Other Meats: 7
There were no real specials read to us, but I didn’t expect much from a steakhouse with such an extensive menu. We did try the veal milanese. This was good, but it could have been better. It was breaded and fried whole, without being pounded flat like a traditional milanese dish.
Because of that, it had a bit too much chew. I also expected a mix of greens to be on there as well, which is common with a milanese.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10
What an awesome set of apps and desserts. First off, the octopus and veal carpaccio apps were probably the best apps I’ve had in a long time. Please make sure you get them.
On the side, we had a roasted and smoked beet (which was actually a veggie entree item), mushrooms and roasted carrots. All of them were great, but when you go, you should focus on the mushrooms (marsala style with porcini cream).
The baked spumoni is an absolute show stopper with layers of chocolate, vanilla, cherry and lemon inside. Save room for dessert!
Seafood Selection: 6
All of the seafood we tried was great, and the selection was nice as well. The main letdown of the meal was the spicy lobster spaghetti. I just sorta fit it into this category though, so don’t let this be an indication of their other seafood entrees.
It was cooked nicely, but the portion of pasta was on the small side (lobster was large though). Also, there was no real spice to it. Meh. Good pasta, but not enough of it and not spicy as advertised.
Our waiter was amazing, as were the hostesses, bartenders and managers. Our first table had a leak from the ceiling overhead (it had just started to pour, thunder and lightning). They swiftly moved us to a table that had an even better view, and they graciously gave us a bottle of wine that was worth nearly $200. We were blown away.
Also worth noting: they serve amazing table bread here, in the style of pull-apart bread. They will just keep bringing it out if you ask.
This place is really nicely appointed. I can’t wait to go back and experience a meal in the bar room. High ceilings, good music, not too loud and not too quiet.
Chuck buys mostly fresh beef, which he ages himself in-house to a minimum of 42 days in most cases. However he loves the flavor of dry-aged beef, especially in the 80-120 day range; he even experiments with really old stuff. For example, when I first met Chuck at Maxwell’s Chophouse, he served me a 500 day dry-aged strip.
This time he served me a 365 day dry-aged strip.
But before I get sidetracked with all of that delicious, mad-scientist shit, let me get right down to the meal from front to back.
The night began with a dry-aged martini. Grey Goose vodka gets infused with 60 day dry-aged beef fat and rosemary. It gets mixed with a little vermouth and simple syrup before being garnished with a rosemary-skewered trio of blue-cheese stuffed castelvetrano olives. Sweet. Savory. Delicious.
While we are on the subject of drinks, the main bar here is beautiful and impressive. Easily a place you’d want to hang at after a rough day at work or even to hit up for some bar grub, like this kickass dry-aged burger.
The grind comes from Debragga since Strassburger doesn’t supply dry aged ground beef at the moment. The burger had a nice funk, was well seasoned and was perfectly cooked.
Okay so back to the rest of the meal…
We started with the house-made bacon and beef fat table bread, which was served with creamy, soft, herb butter.
Everything here is house-made, in fact, from the bread to the bread pudding, from the signature sauces (soon to be bottled and sold) to the signature sides. Even the microgreens are grown by Chef Chuck at his Colorado ranch, Skeleton Ridge Farms.
The first course was a 60 day dry-aged steak tataki sushi roll that was lightly fried. This was fucking amazing and crazy creative.
On deck: even more creativity and deliciousness. Chuck cranked this out of the park. This not your ordinary bone marrow:
The marrow gets roasted, folded with blue cheese to create a mousse, piped back into the marrow bone, and then brulee’d for the finish. A squeeze of charred lemon really cuts the fat with brightness, creating a beautiful and delicate balance. A taste of this will send shock waves through your tastebuds. This is a top dish of the year for me. It’s off menu though, so make sure you tell them I sent you when you ask for it – it’s different from the regular marrow on the menu.
We had a light palate cleanse with this small, refreshing salad, composed mostly of Chuck’s micro greens.
Then we had a Spanish style braised and grilled octopus dish that was garnished with potato, chickpea puree, tomato, pickled onion and greens. Tender and delicious.
The main event for the table was a huge spread of the major beef cuts. We had (counter-clockwise from the bottom right) a 60 day dry-aged porterhouse, a 60 day dry-aged tomahawk rib eye, a 40 day dry-aged bone-in tenderloin, and the 365 day dry-aged strip steak.
Here’s a closer look at that year-long aged steak.
After all the fat and bark was trimmed away from that hunk I showed you up at the top of the review, this was all that was left:
Now you understand why dry-aged steaks cost more. So much is lost in the process! The result is a somewhat vaporous and aromatic punch in the mouth that leaves you with the familiar flavors of mushrooms, truffles, aged cheese, and nuts. Just a few ounces will do fine for this, as it can more readily be identified with a cured product like bresaola or salami than a traditional steak. I like to call it “beef jet fuel,” since it almost tickles the back of your nose – like when you catch a whiff of gasoline, or take on a big blob of wasabi.
The steaks were all awesome. Every one of them was a winner, and you can really taste the care that Chuck puts into the aging process. And Chuck’s sauces really helped to elevate them.
These aren’t your average steakhouse sauces. Chuck’s chimichurri, his vinegar based steak sauce (fuck tomato based sauces), and his horseradish cream are all recipes he developed over decades in the business, from way back when he was 15yrs old and working two blocks from home in his local neighborhood fine dining restaurant, Commander’s Palace. Hell of a place to start. Hell of a place to earn your stripes.
It should be no surprise, then, that he came up with an absolutely killer sauce made from luxardo cherries, rendered trim, drippings and reduced bone broth. This is a sauce that I might expect from an extremely high end meat-centric place like The Grill or TAK Room, to accompany a roasted prime rib or a decadent Wellington.
Insane depth of flavor in that shit. Pure gold. I would drink it.
On the side we had a nice array of creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, lobster mac & cheese, and Brussels sprouts with bacon.
And of course dessert was a blowout with key lime pie, fried cookie dough with ice cream, bread pudding, chocolate lava cake, cheese cake and creme brulee.
What a great spot. Spacious, beautifully decorated, sleek, and with top notch service and attention to detail. The place even does double duty as an event space next door for corporate events, weddings, etc.
Please don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this place is in Jersey. The PATH train to Grove Street or Exchange Place is so fast from either midtown or downtown Manhattan. And Liberty Prime is just a short five minute walk from either station in Jersey City.
I’m going to need to go back there and try some more of Chuck’s amazing cooking. I hope you get over there too!
NYC has entered the era of Catch Steak, a sleek, trendy and sexy steak joint that has some real chops. Chef Michael Vignola, formerly at Strip House and Pomona, proves once again that he is an indispensable asset to the NYC culinary scene. And Catch Steak might be his opus.
The menu that he’s meticulously crafted is filled with both wild feats of cookery and traditional, no nonsense dishes. He exhibits both flare and restraint; fancifulness and humbleness; complexity and simplicity.
He boldly forgoes all other meat protein entrees and focuses solely on beef, save for fish and a plant-based meatless parm dish. There is no chicken. There is no lamb. There is no duck. Beef is the star of the show.
The beef selections are broken down into four sections: Japanese imports; domestic prime; dry-aged beef; and domestic Wagyu cross bred beef.
At first glance, the steak sizes may seem small and pricey. The largest steaks are 24oz porterhouses, and the average size of the cuts range from about 5oz-12oz. But there’s absolutely no waste on these cuts: no “vein steaks” with connective tissue; no gristle. Everything is high end, and trimmed to Michael’s meticulous specifications. Top quality and lack of waste means good value, so the initial sticker shock should be tempered in the mind of the savvy diner.
He sources the beef from many purveyors, but none of them hail from the usual suspects that you might know from the area. If you ask him who supplies the beef, he’ll tell you, “It depends on the cut.”
He spent months vetting each cut from various purveyors all over the country and all over the world. He spent months getting certifications to serve things like true A5 Kobe – with Catch Steak being one of just 11 places in the country that are permitted to serve it.
But the menu doesn’t stop at just one or two cuts from each section. There’s a full range of beefy selections within each, such that any one section would contain enough diversity to satisfy discerning meat connoisseurs dining at any great steakhouse. Catch Steak goes way beyond.
To put it briefly, there are almost 20 steak choices on the menu. My wife and I tried five of them.
First was a duo of imported Japanese selections. Snow beef strip steak, and true A5 Kobe deckle. The Japanese imports are all sold by the ounce, and as such they make great starters for the table to taste and share.
These are treated very simply and grilled on a beautiful hot stone platter that’s been freshly slicked with beef fat. Add fresh flake salt, pepper and garlic ponzu to your liking after it cooks, on your plate.
These were incredible. Both 10/10, but the Kobe deckle was the winner between the two. Both had a naturally buttery aroma from that marbling, which begins to render at room temperature. The deckle had a slightly more tender texture and beefy flavor.
Next was a 5oz soy caramel glazed domestic wagyu strip steak. A truly unique flavor bomb that is unmistakably Michael Vignola. The earthy and savory glaze paired perfectly with the natural sweetness of the meat. 10/10.
My favorite cut of the meal was this 6oz dry-aged deckle.
The peppery maillard crust gave it a great classic steakhouse texture, while the dry aging concentrated the beefy flavors into a walloping punch of “umami.” That aging also succeeded in transforming the most tender portion of the animal into an even more unctuous steak eating experience in this perfectly cooked steak. This was an easy 10/10, and it’s one of my top steaks of the year.
Our final beef selection was a prime porterhouse. This beauty is classic steakhouse fare, where the peppery crust serves as a counterbalance to the soft meat texture within.
While this was closer to medium than medium rare, it still held a ton of flavor and richness. Both sides were very tender, to the point where it would be difficult for the untrained palate to discern strip from tenderloin. The meat was a bit over-salted, but I chalk that up to new restaurant jitters. All of the other cuts were perfectly seasoned. 8/10.
I don’t know how we did it, but we tried a lot more of the ambitious Catch Steak menu.
We started with the roasted peppers appetizer, which is drizzled with 25yr old balsamic, sprinkled with crumbled pistachio, and topped with a dollop of pistachio cream. This was delicious, but I think it could be served with some thin slices of toasted country bread to knock back the concentrated natural salinity of the peppers.
The truffle toro sashimi is absolutely incredible. If toro is your thing, this is definitely a must-order.
Papa’s spicy clams are special. This is a traditional baked clams oreganata dish, but Michael has deftly incorporated spicy nduja into the stuffing, officiating the beautiful marriage between pork and shellfish with his own distinct signature on the nuptial papers. This dish is all him, and it’s killer. If you don’t know Michael’s cooking you’ll know it when you taste this.
On the side we went with three items. The first was actually listed as an appetizer, but we ordered it as an accompaniment to our steak: the potato churro.
This dish will become iconic. The potato is fried into a churro form, filled with sour cream, and then topped with caviar. What an amazing creation. A top dish of the year for sure.
The roasted maitake mushrooms dish is the perfect side to go with your Japanese beef selections. But if you’re like me, you can eat them all day, every day, on the side of whatever is around. I loved these.
Asparagus is a tough veggie to make unique. Here, Vignola has transformed them into a delicious and familiar menu item that many of us enjoy on a weekly basis when we get Chinese take-out: they tasted like sauteed string beans with garlic and almonds! In no way is that meant to be an insult or a triviality. I devoured these!
Dessert aficionados will flip their lid for this Snickers Baked Alaska. It’s large enough to share among four people, especially after going deep into beef for your mains. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s sweet.
This apple cobbler crumble is a house favorite. Inside the pecan strudel there’s a toffee flavored blondie, baked apple and creme fraiche ice cream. Awesome.
Just as impressive as the food menu is the cocktail menu. Mix master Lucas Robinson has curated one of the best cocktail programs around. We tried five drinks from the bar menu and one from the dessert menu. Here they are:
Cafe Disco: Start with this unique take on a negroni, made with cold brew coffee, gin, green chartreuse and campari.
Black & Bleu: This is a savory and earthy mix of miso-infused vodka, dry vermouth, white soy truffle and blue cheese stuffed olives. Very cool frozen copper martini glass too.
Cuffing Season: Wet your taste buds with this stiff pork rind-garnished cocktail, made with fat washed scotch, aperol and amaro. The pork rind is actually pretty friggin’ delicious.
The Glass Slipper: This spicy number is made with rye, Ancho Reyes, benedictine, sherry and absinthe. The rim is cajun salt. My kind of drink!
Up In Smoke: This delicious smoked cocktail is made with rye, yellow chartreuse, dry vermouth and mole bitters. It comes out to the table presented inside a smoke-filled glass lantern box. A delight for the senses with an earthy bottom end from the mole bitters.
Proper Irish Coffee: Lucas’ take on the classic is made with Proper 12 Irish whiskey (of Conor McGregor fame), Colombian coffee, creme de cacao, Ancho Reyes and vanilla salted cream. This hot drink is strong as fuck! A nice balance with those sweet desserts.
The bar area is awesome. Big, spacious, warm and comfortable, yet cool and sleek. I will hang out here and sip those amazing cocktails as often as possible.
The remainder of the space is massive and incredibly well designed. There are two large dining rooms and an upstairs. It has to be one of the biggest restaurants in the city. They spared absolutely no expense in building this place out. Every fixture, every wall, every table is stunning.
That about does it. I’ll be back here for sure. I need to work my way through some more of those amazing cuts of beef. I highly recommend you do the same.
A few weeks back some friends and I were discussing steakhouses, and one friend randomly mentioned this spot – a spot which I have been meaning to try for years now, but never got around to it. Same for him – always wanted to try, but never did. None of us had particularly high expectations going into this, as it’s a small spot with bargain-friendly pricing in a traditionally bargain-friendly area. My buddy and I were both shocked that we both actually wanted to try it, so a few of us got our schedules in order and made it happen, almost purely for research purposes. Here’s what went down:
We had the rib eye and the porterhouse for two. Both could have benefitted from some seasoning, but overall everything was cooked perfectly to medium rare and tender all over. They definitely cook with butter, which you can smell and taste, but it isn’t overpowering like some places. The steaks were also well-rested before they were served, with little to no bleed out.
We also tried their burger. I forgot to dress it up with the lettuce and tomato that comes on the side, but this 10oz beefy patty was cooked perfectly to medium rare and the bun help up nicely to both the cheddar and the burger juices. Like the steaks, it just needed salt.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
All the major cuts are well represented here, and the beef is Certified Angus Beef, from Performance Foodservice. There was no dry-aged flavor coming through, so, if I had to guess, they are doing wet aging.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portions here are pretty big. The porterhouse clocks in at 45oz, the boneless strip and filet mignon are 12oz, and the rib eye is 16oz. They even offer a smaller t-bone (20oz) and a petite filet (8oz), which comes with three jumbo shrimp. Plating is pretty basic. Nothing too fancy. White plate, watercress garnish.
The prices here are awesome. That giant porterhouse for two is just $79. The rib eye is $40. We ordered so much shit and felt like we got away with murder. For what you get here, this place is a great deal.
The cozy five-seat, elbow-shaped bar may be small, but it sees a lot of action. It’s stocked with a really great rum and scotch selection. Upon seeing the nice rums they had, I decided to order a rum old fashioned for my first cocktail. I was not disappointed.
They mix a nice martini to boot. I noticed that several people ate their dinner at the bar, either solo or with their companions, throughout the evening.
Specials and Other Meats: 9
There’s pork, duck, chicken and lamb. No veal, but this is a great spread for a small spot. I almost never see good pork at steak joints these days, so I had to try some. We went with the braised pork shank as a mid-course, and it was cooked perfectly tender. The risotto was a little soupy, and tasted like chicken stock a bit, but I would definitely order that again in a heartbeat.
In addition to the pork shank they also offer a rack of ribs and center cut chops. I asked about specials but only recalled that the soup of the day was a split pea with bacon.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
We had the fries, the sautéed mushrooms and the creamed spinach as far as sides are concerned. All were pretty good, with the creamed spinach being the standout of the three. The fries needed salt (like the burger and steaks), but they had a great crisp on the outside.
For dessert, we had the cheesecake, which was rich and creamy. They don’t make the desserts in house, but I don’t mind if the stuff they serve is tasty.
See the seafood section below for notes on the app that we tried.
Seafood Selection: 7
There’s bass, salmon and rainbow trout on the entree menu here, as well as shrimp, scallops, calamari, crab cakes and mussels on the app side. We tried the bacon wrapped scallops app and they were pretty good. I was shocked that the bacon was crisp all the way around – no rubbery spots – and the scallop was still cooked properly. They just had the flavor of something that was pre-made and frozen.
Our waiter was great. I don’t think he was used to seeing such heavy orders from a small group of three, so we kind of shocked him. He was great though, knew his meat and made good recommendations.
Bread here is a basket of basic dinner rolls with pre-packaged butter. The rolls are served nice and warm.
A steakhouse with outdoor seating in NYC is a hard thing to come by. This place has it.
The interior is basic for the type of structure that it’s in – just a stretch of seating along one side of the room, with the bar and kitchen entry doors on the other.I’m glad I finally came here. Now I know I can go back when I want a good bargain with a nice mom and pop neighborhood feel. It reminded me a lot of Murtha’s back home, only better.
WEST SIDE STEAKHOUSE
597 10th Ave
New York, NY 10036